Ronnie Hanchey grew up following his dad to farmers markets in Jacksonville and Kinston, so it naturally followed that, as an adult farmer, Hanchey would continue the tradition. He regularly travels from his farm in Wallace to the markets at Carolina Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Poplar Grove and Wilmington, selling about half of his produce.
“The remainder,” he said, “is sold to restaurants in the region.”
Hanchey likes the markets for their convenience. Photographer Mike Bryand, also a farmers market vendor, likes them more for the people.
“It’s fun,” he said. “It’s fun meeting the people.”
He described how the Wilmington market sets up on Saturday mornings, with the vendors meeting at Thalian Hall and parading down to Water Street, “and then Bam! It’s there. You’ve got the 8 a.m. crowd, which is the organic crowd, and after 10 is the hangover crowd buying arts and crafts and hanging around,” he laughed.
Bryand particularly likes the sense of community he feels at the Carolina Beach market, where he sets up every third week. Participation guidelines include a set ratio of food vendors to arts and crafts vendors.
“You need strong farmers to have a farmers market,” he commented.
A former UPI photographer, Bryand also has a booth at Blue Moon but thoroughly enjoys the interaction at the markets.
“It’s fun meeting people and watching dogs. I would miss it if it wasn’t there for the ‘fun’ aspect of it.”
About the same time the Carolina Beach market came into existence, Glynne’s Soaps was founded by Gayle Tabor and Jennifer Beddoe. A chemist, Tabor invented a safe flea-treatment soap for dogs after a beloved pet died, apparently due to a topical flea treatment. That invention led to a complete line of natural soaps and other items that are sold through the area’s farmers markets as well as retail outlets and online. Their initial success at the Carolina Beach market has made them steadfast supporters.
Another strong supporter is Wayne Long, who ownsProspect Farms in Supply and Carolina Farmin’ on Market Street. Despite having the entire grocery store to sell his products, Long continues to participate in the markets.
“We look at it as an opportunity for cross exposure. They can see the quality of our product, and the other six days they can find it at Carolina Farmin’,” he said. He also carries produce from other regional farmers like Kelly Holden (Holden Brothers Produce near Ocean Isle) and Benny Ludlum.
“So, it’s also about building a community around you. By ourselves, we can’t stand alone.” Long has been involved in the farmers markets for about three years. He currently participates in Carolina Beach and Southport.
With an abundance of markets throughout the week, there’s a great selection of produce, meats, wines, cheeses, plants, soaps, oils, photographs, sewn items, arts and crafts and more at the markets. There’s even live entertainment at some of them. For a complete listing of local markets, visit www.livinoutloudmag.com. LOL
By: Teresa McLamb